I enjoy following Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester on Facebook. If you haven't heard of them, Carl Hester is essentially the driving force behind the British dressage team, and in addition to be an impressive rider and international competitor himself, he is also the trainer/mentor of Charlotte Dujardin and owner of Valegro. Valegro and Charlotte have smashed every record there is to break. He has carried Charlotte to two individual Olympic gold medals, he's contributed to Olympic team gold and team silver medals, he and Charlotte have won the World Cup, the European Championships and the World Championships. They own every high score record in dressage. There is a lot to love about Valegro and of course Charlotte and Carl as well.
My favorite thing about following Charlotte and Carl on Facebook is seeing that they allow their international superstars to simply be horses. Their horses go out every day regardless of weather and are allowed to run, rear, buck and play. They aren't drugged to keep them from playing, nor are they brought back in if they dare to play. All of their horses in training, including superstar Valegro and Olympic team member Nip Tuck, are regularly trail ridden and hacked out on the roads.
Valegro, aka "Blueberry," having a romp out in the field
Valegro (left) and Nip Tuck (right) out for a hack in the rain after returning home from the Rio Olympics
Valegro has had a long career at the pinnacle of his sport, and Carl's horses in general tend to have long careers despite competing at the international level. I can't help but think the fact that they are allowed to spend much of their time simply being horses contributes to their longevity. It's nice to see people at the top of the sport showing us all how great horseman manage their horses, which is by letting them act like horses.
Murphy and Taco
Levendi and Revy
Charlotte and Renatta
Fabrizzio and Lightning
Elfin, Grand and Rip
Dawn and Dolly
Maisie and Lily
Flyer and Asterik eating breakfast under the morning sun
the Pony Power Club hanging out; Cuffie, Norman and Traveller